Wicked Tuna Recap- Season 3 “Bad Latitude”

Wow. Sam Gamgee has really let himself go.

Wow. Sam Gamgee has really let himself go.

Kathleen Toomey, Hipster Correspondent

One of Gloucester’s big draws over the past few summers has been tourists interested in the National Geographic show “Wicked Tuna.” I’ve had people come into the bike shop looking for the boats involved, but I’ve never actually watched the show. Reality TV is not my thing. OK, except for Teen Mom because that is genius programming. But other than that, not my thing.

Also, I know JACK SHIT about fishing. Seriously. I have lived on Cape Ann for almost a decade, and my knowledge of the fishing industry is limited to the bumper sticker my neighbor has of Calvin pissing on the logo for the National Marine Fisheries Service. I come from a stock of moderately educated Irish folk who do not do extreme jobs very well and will wilt after 30 minutes in direct sunlight.

So my job is to recap this shit for you. Let’s do it. I’m not starting from the beginning of season one or anything, I’m just going to jump right into whatever Hulu tells me the current episode is. We’re on Season 3, Week 7 of … fishing weeks, whatever that means.

Okay, in the opening credits there is a lot of screaming and drama and fish things are happening. Is there always so much screaming in fishing? And here’s the “leaderboard” that keeps track of what boats have earned stuff. There’s a boat called “Hot Tuna,” which was coincidentally my nickname in high school.

And here’s some slow-motion shots of seagulls that make them look majestic and not at all like they steal your hot dogs and shit hot white goo on your Audi all the fuck day long. Fuck seagulls.

Now there’s some talking between the shipguys on the Hot Tuna and I legit need captions. I have lived in this area my whole damn life and I have a wicked sharp Boston accent, guy. But these guys, I can’t understand. JOOTIGHTENNNATBACKUP? I don’t know what we’re tightening. You’d better do it, though, that guy’s real mad. According to one guy, George’s Bank is a nasty place to fish. I don’t know why. It’s far away and smells bad I guess.

Okay on the next boat, the tuna.com one, a guy named Garon Mailman (dude that’s the coolest name ever) says I WANT A TUNA NOW like my preschooler asking for a cheese stick. The head in charge sailor guy says “It is what it is.” I didn’t realize this show would have such deep philosophical discussions, but you learn something new every day.

OH HERE COMES A FISH AND A LOT OF YELLING OH GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING oh no it’s a seal nevermind carry on.

Meanwhile on the F/V Lily, there is a guy throwing an actual pole in the ocean to catch a fish like Tom Hanks in Castaway. He misses, and they all act like a middle school coach, trying not to blame him for totally fucking up. You’ll get ’em next time, tiger. You put forth the effort and that’s what matters. On the third attempt, another guy tries throwing the harpoon, and here comes dramatic music so a thing might happen. Nope, guy doesn’t even take a shot.

Oh look a fish got caught, and it takes approximately seven years to reel it in.

Now we’re on the F/V Stonerboat, run by total stoners. This is my favorite boat so far. I think one guy is wearing a backpack and they all look like they got lost in the woods searching for a high school keg party and ended up on this boat hunting tuna. I have heard the word “dude” uttered fifteen times in four seconds.

Insert "Fish/Phish" joke here

Insert “Fish/Phish” joke here

Some people don’t catch fish for twenty minutes even though they thought they would. Then the Lily catches a fish with just straight up harpooning it. Someone on stonerboat makes a “your mom’s fat” joke and gets hit with a greasy pizza box.

More interminable reeling and some people catch fish and get paid for fish and then the show ends.

I have not learned much about fishing.

Disclaimer: Despite poking gentle fun at the captains and crew of this show, we actually admire them very much – not only for their hard work, but for helping Gloucester get on the map for something interesting.


Now we talk about dog shit because we hate ourselves

One of the issues guaranteed to send otherwise sane (by Gloucester standards) citizens to depart from the 9 ¾ platform onto the train to Nuttwarts Castle is dogs and the attendant bounty of poop they yield. For fun sometime mention “leash laws” to old timers who’ve been involved in Gloucester politics for the long haul and watch their eyes twitch. This is an issue that, for little understood anthropological reasons, comes up every few years and burns through the populace as an infectious bout of rabid pointlessness, like a witch-hunt or an Aerosmith comeback tour. When it’s over nothing has advanced except a fresh revelation of our own shamefulness.

DISCLAMMER (a term we just made up and plan to milk heavily). We here at The Clam love dogs. We are also immensely clear that everyone who goes to the beach has a fundamental right to a safe, clean experience to the extent this is possible in an integrated society like ours. But the facts matter, so here they are:

 Important Fact One: Human beings and dogs have been together for literally tens of thousands of years. It’s an interspecies partnership deeper than just having a pug you can dress in amusing costumes for holidays. Canines and humans are literally co-evolved. We fed them; they did important jobs for us like warn of and fight foes, hunting, herding and have served as loyal companions. Half of the population has dogs. As Baby Boomers age many more will get dogs to help the nest feel less empty. Dogs are not going away, we have to deal with dogs, sorry cat people.

This has been going on for a long, long time

This has been going on for a long, long time

 Important Fact Two: Dogs are not just going to be kept in houses and yards. The argument that people should keep them exclusively on their own property is not workable. We have ‘common lands’ and always have. And things like the dog park are nice, but in general one of the reasons people get dogs is to motivate themselves to take longer walks so just letting the dog run around in a fenced-in area, public or private, isn’t going to cut it. During the winter, on an otherwise empty beach there is no good reason to completely ban well-behaved dogs even if it were possible to do so.

To this some people object- they seen to imply a right to an entirely dog-free existence. They don’t have one. There is no identified basic human right to be dog free. That may be a preference, maybe even one that can be accommodated to the extent that is reasonable, but it’s not a fundamental right. For instance, we are cyclists. We don’t have a reasonable expectation of car-free public roads. Accommodations are made (bike lanes, bike trails), but no one sane is demanding the wholesale banning cars because they present a threat to the safety and enjoyment of a particular segment (This is why we are bitter, btw). People have a right to be in public without being threatened or hassled, but they don’t have a right to a public world without well-behaved dogs. And everyone will have a story about how they once got scared or knocked over by a dog who was infringing on fundamental rights. Again, talk to cyclists. We got stories, lemmetellya.

 Important Fact Three: The city is not going to divert more enforcement to leash laws, current or new. There are four cops on call at any given time for this city of 20 square miles. They are not going to be enforcing leash laws (and it’s in their contracts that they don’t have to. Seriously). There is one animal control officer and he is up to his badge in calls about injured seagulls, coyotes (Typical call: “Dear sweet merciful God! I just saw a coyote in my yard!”) turkeys standing on cars crapping and scratching the finish and raccoons in chimneys (we enjoy picturing them wearing comical little tophats). Literally all his on-duty time is spent responding to calls. There is no time for him to patrol the beaches on alternate Sundays and hand out tickets to otherwise chill people. That will never be a regular thing. Ever. Not going to happen.

 Important Fact Four: The city will never adopt less restrictive leash laws than those currently on the books because it would open them up for liability. Their lawyers will not let them; anyone who’s ever worked with a legal department knows this. We once worked with a pharma company where the legal team finally Okayed the use of Twitter and told us that after vetting and checking they could guarantee us the approval of a thrilling one tweet per month. That is how legal works. Their job is to reduce risk and generally they don’t really give a toss if things like “fun” or “business effectiveness” suffer.

So what have we learned? Simply that nothing will change by modifying or creating new leash laws. Not a single thing. Because there will be no parallel enforcement change. You can make all the laws you want but without it there will be no substantive behavior modification. Remember that many states literally have laws that make blowjobs illegal. Are these laws enforced? Do non religious-lunatics care? Did you even know that Massachusetts is one of these states? We profoundly hope this lends a certain air of risqué eroticism to your next sexual escapade. You’re welcome.

So, this proves that the laws don’t matter, really. Because people don’t look to rulebooks for how to behave, they look to each other. Think about the highway. You don’t drive at the posted speed on 128. You drive based on what the traffic is doing. How often do you actually travel at the posted speed limit? And how often is that actual number, not some egregious violation of it, enforced? This goes for all kinds of things. It’s the group that enforces the vast majority of social norms, not the cops or the dog officer.

For instance, we are writing this very missive on a packed commuter train into Boston and just a few minutes ago someone began watching a show on their iPhone without headphones and the volume turned up. Something like three separate people yelled a version of, “Shut that shit off!” because we morning commuters know this is simply Not Done. But in the middle of the day when the majority of the train riders are heading to Salem for arraignments or to Lynn to buy drugs for which they will eventually be arrested and arraigned, everyone listens to their iPhones without headphones and the group does not enforce. The social norms change depending on who is in the group, even on the exact same train on the exact same route.

Yes there are always outliers. The whole gag of the Borat character was that he didn’t understand American customs and constantly broke them in egregious fashion. Watching him violate social norms and the subsequent crowd reaction and attempts to correct was the whole premise of the joke. As a culture we find this endlessly amusing because we are social animals. It’s that simple.

So if laws won’t work, how do we modify unwanted behavior?

Ignore the government. Well, don’t ignore them, but don’t bother to look to them for solutions because they both can’t and won’t even if they could. What the situation requires is dedicated volunteers to organize and go to the beach or the park or wherever and reward people adhering to the desired norms (“You guys are great! Have a cookie!”) and likewise admonish those breaking them. How much more effective would a nice, smiling person in a reflective vest be walking up and handing a clean-up bag to someone studiously ignoring the beadloaf-sized dookie their golden retriever just cranked out? “Did you forget bags? Here, I have extra.” Think of that person walking up to the owner of an out of control dog and saying, “I think she needs to be on a leash” and having a spare length of rope she could hand out if necessary.

If people are obstinate and tell her to go eat a bag of dicks (Illegal in MA, see above), then she can call the cops or animal control or even more volunteers or effing SEAL Team Six or whomever. But most everybody will tow the line because people want to adhere to social norms. This is why khaki slacks exist.

Lots of places have an “Ambassador Program” and it’s used by any organization trying to get a large group of people to adhere to social norms in a group setting where the population vastly outnumbers the enforcement. You will see them at the ballgame, helping people find their correct seats, reminding folks to pick up trash, taking photos and having fun but also nudging those just-over-the-line party people to keep it under control. And if they don’t, a radio call goes out and three large dudes named “Sully” waltz over and drag your sorry beer-soaked ass out to Lansdowne. But most people adhere.

Come along Timmy. The Monster demands flesh.

Come along Timmy. The Monster demands flesh.

The point is that these are not enforcers. Primarily they are friendly, outgoing, smiley people who want to help. And most people breaking the rules need it. Maybe they need a referral to a dog trainer, maybe they need a leash or just a hand with their dog for a minute while they figure out what they are doing (dog handling is a skill). And seeing ambassadors means that those being bothered have someone to go to, creating a sense of accountability. And it’s not a full-time job, it’s a semi-volunteer position. The community is supporting them, not the city.

Ski areas use this approach. Concert venues use them. Gloucester does not. But our fair city would be well served to have a few on the beaches for all kinds of things: dog issues, trash pick-up at the end of the beach day in summer (“You guys need a garbage bag?”), for the ever-present unshoveled walks (“Do you need to borrow a shovel? We have some right here!”).

But this is not the way most people approach problems. A loud set demands the cops ticket and arrest everyone breaking a particular law being ignored (but not the ones they, themselves are ignoring, of course). Sure we all want to see people doing things we don’t like punished. We, for instance, would like to George Lucas sent to the Supermax prison in Colorado for the horror that was The Phantom Menace. But that’s not how the world works. Encouragement is always going to be more effective than enforcement. And getting people together to solve a problem- the dog people and the bothered-by-dogs people is a far better approach than expecting the city to solve our minor problems. Even if they had the resources, which they don’t, that’s not the kind of thing we want the government to do.

And, for the record, we will not be approving any comments nominating particular individuals as “Blowjob Ambassador”. Consider yourselves warned, pervs.

The Fuller School. Oh God, do we really have to talk about this?


One of the many obsolete products of the ’70s

We are nowhere near drunk enough to talk about the Fuller School. Fuller is one of those things that is essentially a fractal of idiocy. It’s stupid, but then when you look at any given part that component is in and of itself equally stupid, and those stupids are made up of their own entirely dumbass components. All. The. Way. Down. Never before have I run into an issue where there were simple, fairly easy to comprehend reports about the impracticality of a particular course of action, created by certified professionals that were routinely ignored by everyone who chose to talk about it save a few key individuals. Oh lordy lord.

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 1.04.55 PM

people who know what they are talking about wrote this

History: Fuller was built in 1965 by The Archdiocese as a parochial high school. Some additions were built in the ’70s. But here’s the thing- a lot of it was built in ways that are impossible or highly diffiucult to make compliant to modern building codes, especially for a building that houses children. Among the people who said so are Dore & Whittier Architects, who are certified and licensed and bonded and probably went to college and stuff for this.

Their report, which was as clear and easy to understand as it was unread, explained in stark terms what would be required to have Fuller even serve as a temporary school while building out the new West Parish, a little tune that goes: “14 million bucks”. Yeah, spit that morning mojito out. 14 million, just for a temporary school.That’s half the cost of a new one. Getting it to be able to be a fully functioning school again, rehabbing the whole thing would cost 67 million bucks, twice per square foot what building the new Manchester Essex and Ipswich schools cost each. When you actually read the reports and find out the facts it’s obvious that using that site as an educational institution just isn’t worth it. The maths don’t lie.

Wow. Interesting. So smart, certified professionals took a look, made a call and the School Committee acted accordingly. Fine, end of story, lets move on to some other topic…wait, what? What the what? Do we hear the unmistakeable low howl of a distant wind of dumbassery coming in off the harbor? Yes we do indeed. It’s a Dumbeaster, headed our way.

You see, almost no one read this report. And no one summarized it. And no one posted it in an easy-to-find place. It was like the report on building the new bypass over Arthur Dent’s house in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy- it was apparently in a locked filing cabinet in a disused basement washroom with a sign on the door reading ‘Beware of the Leopard’.  We had to request it from our ward councilor once word of it’s existence began to spread. I think we found out about it from spraying lemon juice on the back of a Leonardo Da Vinci, if we remember correctly.

The GDT, apparently having switched to a more toxic form of ink and not using proper fume protections, kept reporting that it would be simple to house students there than rent a space for something like $500 large. They kept saying that using our existing ‘asset’ of Fuller would make sense and that we would recoup the costs because we’d invested in a building we owned rather than leasing a space for the West Parish rebuild. This is fresh off the heels of their ongoing fantasy of closing the neighborhood schools and consolidating them at Fuller, saving mondo dollars.

How many mondo of these dollars? Did they ever produce a number or a spreadsheet or a scrawled gravy-stained napkin that projected these savings? Did they ever run an analysis? No, that would require the actual work of the journalism and we know that the GDT doesn’t really go for that anymore. These days its just about bloviating on topics but not actually doing any fact checking that one can just easily google, like we did.

We found that as far as consolidation goes, for all that work it would be far more expensive to move the kids to a single site, wouldn’t meet the educational goals of the city and you don’t save that much because the real cost is in the teachers and educational staff, not in the cost of the buildings themselves. It’s not a lot more expensive to run 5 schools than one big one. Seriously. Look it up. And as a temporary site, would we get the 14 million back? Probably not, because we’d have to get the site to educational code, and if we then decided to do something else with it, that would be a huge waste of money that we wouldn’t recoup. This is not hard to figure out. Also, we hired a consultant to do this. Just read the fucking report.

But despite this, local politicians and political aspirants seemed to be magnetically drawn to visit Fuller and ritualistically humiliate themselves there with their lack of knowledge. They’d look around and go, “Jeez, it looks fine in here, shucks and stuff,” and then claim that it was ‘negligent’ and ‘criminal’ that the building had been let go. People kept calling it an ‘asset’ and talked about how great the school was during the fucking Carter Administration. Is this how we do multi-million dollar asset evaluations? Were there any architects or engineers involved in these site visits? Am I really going to do these posts for free and not ask people to cover my alcohol bills? Oh man. Better just go to a metaphor here so I don’t try and gouge my own eyes out in despair.

Metaphor: it’s like this: Your neighbor is in some financial trouble. Maybe sort of he’s been accused of some not great things and his assets are being seized. It’s messy. So he has to get rid of this unused shed on this parcel that abuts your property and he just gives it to you. “Take the shed,” he says so you do. And you use the shed. But it’s not a well built shed. It won’t fit a car or a boat, it doesn’t meet modern building codes, and it’s going to cost more to fix than it’s worth so over time you sort of stop using it and let it go. You’re having your own financial troubles, particularly back in 2008 when the economy crashed. So you don’t replace the roof on the shed and try and keep your own house maintained instead. Your useful house, the one you and your 2,000 kids live in.

A few years later you’ve make it through the crash and you’re figuring out what to do next, do you listen to a lot of assholes going, “why didn’t you maintain that shed! The roof leaks now! That shed was hella awesome back in the 70’s, I used to get high in there listen to Jethro Tull on BCN with my cousins! YOU MONSTER!!!”? No, you do not listen to those assholes, you remind them that the construction of the shed precluded you from doing much with it. It became a liability and you treated it as such. You offer to show them the spreadsheet you…

“But the Tull, Mark Parenteau!”

Shut up, idiots.The best thing for Fuller today would be to bulldoze it and build something useful there. Maybe get the fire and police stations out of downtown into a modern facility. Maybe the Y. It’s a central location, a lot of land, that part is great. But as a school, it’s over.

Just like Tull.

Here are the reports. God have mercy on your soul:

Dore & Whittier reviews Fuller as a place to house W. Parish Students during construction of new school in the gripping Preliminary Evaluation of Alternatives

And the Fuller Site Reuse Study, also a page turner

Look what you made us do

We have resisted blogging about Gloucester for a couple of reasons. First, Gloucester was previously covered by an actual newspaper, the Gloucester Daily Times [paywall. Seriously!] Sadly, the GDT has suffered in quality of late. Oh, let’s not sugar coat it, they are awful. Like ‘painful groin rash’ wretched. In our opinion Gloucester essentially has no functioning newspaper now, and certainly not one with a useful online presence. This means a lot of Gloucester viewpoints are not being heard.

It stinks from the head

It stinks from the head

Cape Ann Online has great discussions along with a bunch of trolling. It’s a great forum for short-form stuff. But it’s forum-style.

Of course Joey Ciaramitaro runs a pretty boss blog Good Morning Gloucester. He covers events, food, art, the highly clickworthy winter bikini volleyball beat and now even weather and waterfront. The man has heat, but he’s crystal clear about one thing: He does not want to cover anything that could remotely be considered “political”. This is his right and his is blog is just that. It’s great the way it is and he wants to keep it that way.

GMG is like a really good party, and you don't talk politics at a party. Especially in a cape.

GMG is like a really good party, and you don’t talk politics at a party. Especially in a cape.

We ourselves would rather blog about bikes or hipsters or androids, but for some reason people keep frigging insisting we discuss local politics with them. This is how bad it’s gotten, folks are so desperate for factual information about things like the Fuller School that in the fall we had to take time off of being funny on Facebook to send around the actual architects’ report that The Times never got around to summarizing or even like, reading, apparently. We did not like this. Not at all.

So desperate times call for desperate means and thus you all are now are so information deprived you’ll turn to a news source that isn’t afraid to use the term ‘fucktacular’ to describe a particularly good sandwich. So in between some good-ole-fashioned tomfooolery, we’re going to talk about actual issues from our perspective.

Hey, you asked for it.

We’re going to try and cover some of the stuff that’s being ignored and report on the Gloucester we see in all its glory and its idiocy. We’re going to try, in our own style, to summarize a few of the issues. We’re going to give our take to the best of our ability and also hit the fun and wacky side of Gloucester as well. We’re not journalists, we’re bloggers, whatever that means.

Drink up, people. It’s going to be a fun ride.


Whatever, rock